BALTIMORE — The Maryland Rural Health Association (MRHA) released findings from a year-long comprehensive examination of the rural health-care needs of Maryland. The 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan encompasses existing county health plans, Community Health Needs Assessments, State Health Improvement Process data, results from a state-appointed study on Maryland's Eastern Shore, and feedback from citizens and health-care professionals in each of Maryland's 18 rural counties.
The 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan highlighted six areas of need: Access to care, sustainable funding mechanisms for health-care services, care coordination, chronic disease prevention and management, health literacy and health insurance literacy, and outreach and education.
"Many rural residents face structural, economic, and physical barriers to health care, while rural health-care providers seek strategies and opportunities to increase access and services available to their communities," Maryland Department of Health Secretary Robert R. Neall said. "With 25 percent of Marylanders living in rural communities, it is more important than ever to reduce barriers, remove gaps, and increase access to general practitioners, specialists, behavioral health, and oral health providers, as well as urgent care and emergency facilities."
The 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan outlined several recommendations in three categories: Policy recommendations, system-based recommendations, and individual recommendations.
"The 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan is a collaborative document that synthesizes the needs of Maryland's most vulnerable populations. MRHA looks forward to taking the recommendations and turning them into real projects to improve Maryland's rural health landscape," said Lara Wilson, executive director of MRHA. "The plan documents needs and serves as a road map to creating healthier rural communities. MRHA will now work with statewide partners to begin actualizing changes based on the outlined findings."
The 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan was made possible through a collaboration among MRHA, the Maryland Department of Health, the Rural Maryland Council, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The plan can be viewed and downloaded from the MRHA website, www.mdruralhealth.org/maryland-rural-health-plan/.
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